Police were much more likely to threaten or use force against blacks and Hispanics than against whites in any encounter, whether at a traffic stop or elsewhere, according to the Justice Department. http://capitaldefenseweekly.com/blog/2007/04/30/doj-reports-racial-profiling-remains-widespread-pernicious/
Many of the self-pay jails operate like secret velvet-roped nightclubs of the corrections world. You have to be in the know to even apply for entry, and even if the court approves your sentence there, jail administrators can operate like bouncers, rejecting anyone they wish. ⇒
The three big ticket items I’d fund with such power and budget are training 10,000 teachers to deal with dyslexic kids and illiterate adults, dramatically expanding community-based mental health treatment, and focusing evidence-based programming on children of incarcerated parents. The reason: those are the biggest categories where funding would make a difference to prevent crime rather than react to it. Dyslexics are three times as likely as others to enter prison, children of incarcerated parents 6-8 times more likely, and the mentally ill are being warehoused in Texas prisons in huge numbers – the state estimates 30% of inmates are past clients of the indigent mental health system. If you can stop people in those categories either from committing crimes or immediately entering prison when they screw up, it would do more to improve public safety than the current lock-em-up approach.
Scott’s observations are supported by some shocking stats from the April 2007 “Harper’s Index”:
- Percentage of American adults held in either prisons or mental institutions in 1953 and today, respectively: 0.67, 0.68
- Percentage ofthese adults in 1953 who were in mental institutions: 75
- Percentage today who are in prisons: 97
- Estimated amount that U.S. adults who grew up poor cost the economy each year through increased crime: $170,000,000,000
- Estimated amount they cost the economy through higher health care costs: $160,000,000,000
Oh what a wonderful world.
This dude was trying to see up my skirt! . . . And you know I am a P.D., because this barely even phased me. ⇒
Hundreds of thousands of inmates, all by-products of a nearly four-decades-old war on drugs, are now pouring out of the nation’s prisons. ⇒
When Georgia public defender Sherri Johnson attempted to do what can only be considered very smart lawyering, she got hit with a 30 day sentence for contempt of court. ⇒
If the First Amendment serves as a source of criminal procedure, what procedures does it require? For example, could the First Amendment require a warrant? An exclusionary rule? ⇒
Bearing in mind that all United States jurisdictions allow the Government a lifetime to prosecute murder, do we really need to extend the limits for prosecuting non-violent crimes? ⇒
Law Montana Needs: If the penalty is ambiguous, the accused gets the benefit of the lesser punishment
A common criminal charge around our office (and around the state, I’m sure) is felony “possession” of “dangerous drugs.” Many such charges come from similar facts: The accused was stopped for a traffic violation or was in the wrong apartment at the wrong time or whatever, he was searched or arrested, and in his pocket was a baggie containing “residue” that tested positive for methamphetamine. These “residue” cases are infuriating because they defy logic: How can you “possess” “drugs” when you really only have, at most, residue? If I have an empty box of cereal containing nothing but the dust left behind by the cereal that once was, do I “possess” “cereal,” or do I just have something that once clearly contained cereal, aka, paraphernalia?
So I was interested to read on Concurring Opinions about a Utah case that appears to resolve this problem:
A police officer found a plastic baggie with methamphetamine residue in the defendant’s pocket. Under Utah law, this evidence could have been used to charge possession of drug paraphernalia (a misdemeanor), or possession of a controlled substance (a felony). The state charged the felony offense. At a preliminary hearing, the defendant successfully invoked State v. Shondel, 453 P.2d 343 (1969), a Utah case that provides that “where there is doubt or uncertainty as to which of two punishments is applicable to an offense an accused is entitled to the benefit of the lesser.”
Brilliant. Now let us all go forth and make this the law here, too. [tags]drugs, residue, Utah[/tags]
Tomorrow is the release date for Defending the Damned and Public Defender Stuff scored an interview with author Kevin Davis in which Davis gives more insight into the people featured in the book, his own feelings about them, and how average readers might react:
These lawyers are not the kind of people who are afraid. They’re not concerned what other people might think. That is one of the qualities I most admired about them. They are willing to do an unpopular job and live with the consequences. . . . You’re absolutely right that outsiders may be turned off. And outsiders may never fully understand or appreciate the value of public defenders, whether they read this book or not. I have a great respect and affection for those I wrote about, I think they felt the same.